Speech at Panel on Economic Development

Proposed measures to enhance marine safety

Provision of lifejackets on local vessels

Mr CHAN Chun-ying enquired about the details of the subsidy scheme, including the number of vessels and lifejackets involved in the replacement exercise, the cost of each Common Lifejacket and the total subsidy amount. He also called on the Administration to work out with the trade a recycling plan for the existing lifejackets to avoid wastage.

Deputy Director of Marine (Special Duties) (“DD(SD)”) said that the Common Lifejacket was developed with the assistance of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. It was suitable for persons weighing up to 120 kg by design or up to 133 kg in actual testing for usage within the Hong Kong waters. The Common Lifejacket was designed to automatically face up the wearer in water to assist breathing. Its development process had been successfully completed with a prototype finalized and ready for production. The whole replacement exercise was expected to involve some 1 300 passenger vessels and about 80 000 existing lifejackets. According to the latest information from the potential manufacturer, the cost of each Common Lifejacket was expected to range from $135 to $180 depending on the production quantity and accreditation fees, and the Government would provide partial subsidy to facilitate replacement. Currently MD was in close discussion with various local vessels associations which gave positive feedback in this regard. As for the recycling plan of existing lifejackets, the trade was planning to donate the existing lifejackets to various maritime organizations in Hong Kong and overseas.

In response to Mr Jeremy TAM’s enquiry, DD(SD) said that the description, including buoyance and the maximum weight that it could support in water, would be imprinted on each Common Lifejacket. Clear donning instructions would also be provided to assist passengers’ donning in case of emergencies.

Safety measures during major events at sea

Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted that only children aged between two and 11 but not infants under the age of two on board local vessels would be required to wear suitable lifejackets at all times on board of spectator vessels during major events. He asked about the reasons for adopting different approaches on this matter and the consideration of respective legal responsibilities in case of distress.

DD(SD) explained that while it would be compulsory for the accompanying adult to ensure the wearing of suitable lifejackets by the children concerned during major events at sea, the accompanying adult would have discretion to decide whether the infants concerned should wear suitable lifejackets subject to practicability and the actual circumstances. This arrangement was considered suitable due to the restriction caused on body movements in wearing lifejackets.